Westenra: In Hailing Distance Of U.S. Debut
Nine months will have passed between the release of Hayley
Westenra's album "Pure" in her native New Zealand
and its April 6 North America bow. The extended buildup
has allowed Decca Records to create a very broad campaign
for the 16-year-old singer.
the launch of "Pure" in the United States, Westenra
and her family are moving to New York for at least six months,
according to Marc Johnston, senior VP/GM for the Universal
Classics Group, which includes Decca.
is absolutely dedicated to the U.S. full-time," Johnston
says. Media exposure around the release will come from an
appearance by Hayley on "Good Morning America,"
coverage in teen magazines and heavy advertising buys on
such high-profile shows as "Oprah," "Dr.
Phil" and "Live With Regis and Kelly."
also will turn to several tried-and-true methods of promoting
a classical crossover artist.
Lee, classical music buyer at Borders Books and Music, notes
that Decca has supplied the store with free Westenra samplers
to give away. "April is classical music month, and
Hayley will be a centerpiece of our positioning," Lee
following in the footsteps of such megastars as Andrea Bocelli
and Josh Groban, Westenra is about to tape her first PBS
special, a "Great Performances" program scheduled
to air in fourth-quarter 2004.
singing is so gorgeous," says David Horn, the program's
producer. "It's reminiscent of the great boy-soprano
sound of Anglican church choirs."
while Decca will target its traditional crossover audience
of adult women, the label is employing a new tactic: aggressively
promoting Westenra to kids and teens. During April and May,
the young singer will appear on a national Radio Disney
music education tour for middle-school students.
Jones, VP of programming for Radio Disney, admits that Westenra
is a departure. "She doesn't typify the Radio Disney
sound," Jones says, "but presenting her exposes
kids to a new level of music. And since she's so young herself,
kids can really relate to her."
Lajeski, Disney's executive VP of music creative and marketing,
agrees. "Unlike with Charlotte Church, for example,
there's a priority to expose Hayley to a younger audience,"
he says. To that end, Westenra's first Disney project is
her appearance on the soundtrack for the direct-to-video
"Mulan 2," slated for release in February 2005.
major and innovative aspect of Westenra's U.S. debut is
Decca's effort to gain attention for her from the TV and
hired an independent consultant, Robin Kaye, who's been
an amazing member of our team," Johnston notes. "She
has showcased Hayley at most of the major studios. I believe
that this is the first time anyone's done that systematically,
and the response has been fantastic."
singing is Westenra's main focus right now, Johnston adds
that her L.A. showcases had a bonus result. "When she
was out there, people were giving her scripts to read, and
she had a few rather impromptu auditions. So some film and
TV roles are currently in the works."
exec who responded to Kaye's initiative was Greg Sill, music
supervisor for the NBC drama "American Dreams."
"Robin brought her to visit the set and perform for
Jonathan Prince, the series' executive producer, and myself.
We just flipped over the sound of her voice—it's so angelic,"
Sill says. Westenra has been booked to appear on one of
next season's episodes of the show.
are also very aggressively pursuing marketing deals,"
Johnston says. The label has already entered into a partnership
with Doritos: Between now and December, Westenra will be
featured on 20 million bags of chips, appearing alongside
the artist Raven and Nick Lachey, former 98º singer
and "Newlyweds" star.